1991 Nissan International Classic, Ireland
Stage 4: Limerick to Cork
The viewing of this stage on a tired old VCR at a friends apartment brings back memories of the old BS, good beer, and one hell of a tip of the hat to Sean Yates. I was sucking down a cold one while sitting on the floor. The bottle was frozen in hand somewhere between my mouth and the ground. My stomach was in knots. Not only because of the nervous energy of the big Greek one pacing about opening and closing his fists in tense fixation, but the epic battle playing out between Sean Kelly and Sean Yates.
The two man break of Yates and Kelly, two of the most stoic gladiators of cycling ever, were well on their way to deciding who would be king for the day. Rain had made the roads slick, so extra caution was needed to navigate the treacherous course. Despite the warnings of Pat McQuaid and Phil Liggett, the duo paid no heed to the conditions and bombed sweeping turns at speed.
The real majesty of the race was the spectacle of watching the climb of St. Patricks hill in Cork. They had to climb seated so as to not slip their rear wheels. Yates kept on falling back on the hill and would capture Kelly's wheel on the descent. If there was one thing Yates did well, it was descend. He was fearlessness incarnate.
The road grime and water made the duo look hard-edged and tough as nails. This was the image I took with me on every wet ride in those days. It was Yates that won the incredible two up sprint for the stage win. Kelly took the yellow leaders jersey for good.
Mad Props, Sean. Mad Props.